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From-Sweden Wigmore Hall, London, 20 March 2005

Jakob Lindberg lutes and cister
Dan Laurin recorders
Anna Emilsson soprano

Eccles: A division on a ground
Swedish Folk Songs
Dowland: Sir John Smith's Almain; Fantasia; Flow my tears;
Farewell fancy; Go crystal tears
Handel: Nel dolce dell'oblio
Jacob van Eyck recorder solos
Pepusch: Love frowns in beauteous Myra's eyes
Roman: Jag fortrostar pa Herran; The happy man
Bellman Five songs with cister
Finger: A division on a ground
+ music by the prolofic anon !

A more successful recital than several in this spread-out festival. From the front of the Wigmore Hall, one felt as if at a pleasant domestic music making session, its lynch-pin Jakob Lindberg, lute virtuoso, accompanist and droll commentator. It was all quiet, intimate and relaxing. There was a reasonable audience - not full, Lindberg opined by ear (!) because of the degree to which the lute detuned during the evening.

Dan Laurin provided dazzling demonstrations of his skill in ornamentation on several sized recorders, and accompanying Anna Emilsson's light soprano with obbligatos in Handel etc. She has a charming manner of delivery and the Swedish language (English translations provided) is a pleasure to hear.

The problem continues to be the quality of the music, some of it routine, whether Swedish or English; there was little here to challenge the primacy of Dowland. Finger and Eccles are small talents - the latter's cakes are more distinctive than his music! Bellman's songs, popular in Sweden, are strophic with simple accompaniments, arranged by Lindberg for the cister, a rare guitar variant which he tuned with a clockmaker's No 11 key!

A pity Dan Laurin wasn't allowed to vary the baroque fare with some of the contemporary Swedish recorder music composed for him, but the burgeoning field of contemporary music, recently enjoyed in Stockholm, isn't scheduled in this festival.

The programme book was lavish and comprehensive, although not the easiest to navigate. Next at Wigmore Hall, a celebration of the Swedish troubador tradition.

© Peter Grahame Woolf